Orlan is an artist who rarely gets her due. Unlike say, Cindy Sherman or Judy Chicago, very few seem to pay the French artist the amount of respect she deserves. Perhaps this is why Lady Gaga felt she could get away with ripping Orlan off for the Born This Way album artwork and title track video. Although this “project” came out in 2013, the lawsuit Orlan filed that year has escalated, with proceedings to take place in New York where Gaga’s fashion and makeup directors for the “Born This Way” video and record, Nicola Formichetti and Billy Brasfield, are expected to be deposed.
Being that this is far from Gaga’s first time being accused of ripping people off–just ask Yolandi from Die Antwoord–it’s no wonder that the axe has finally fallen hard on her in the form of legal action–$31.7 million worth of legal action, to be exact. This is the 7.5% of share of the profits Orlan feels is merited for replicating the content of her plastic surgery performance piece, “Carnal Art,” during which she underwent several body modifications while reading selections of poetry. At this rate, Gaga’s lucky Madonna didn’t bother suing her for blatantly taking the riff from “Express Yourself.”
Gaga’s distinctly familiar aesthetic in the “Born This Way” video, prosthetic head lumps and all, is dangerously bordering on–and may just be–plagiarism. Orlan’s lawyers certainly sound confident when they say, “We’re accusing her of having forged her artworks, that is, of reproducing them illegally. That is part of intellectual property law.” Then again, Gaga probably has more money to spend on drawing this case out until it dies. C’est la vie je suppose.